New law dealing with HOAs to be challenged in court

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For the second time in two years, a lawsuit is set to be filed questioning the constitutionality of a bill just signed into law by Gov. Brewer that deals a blow to the power wielded by home and property owners associations.

Because of the new law, neighborhood associations with local police departments could be dissolved and ultimately the safety of where you live could be decided by the Arizona Supreme Court.

Earlier this week (read story HERE) CBS5 profiled a condo complex in Phoenix and how the crime rate went down almost 60 percent in six months after people with criminal records were banned from living there.

Property Manager Dave Russell walked into the same situation in 2009 at the complex he manages in Mesa.

"Pit bulls, drug deals, shots fired," said Russell. "The place was crime ridden. Overrun with criminals. Sixty-eight convicted felons were living on the property."

Russell has helped turn things around and the complex he manages is now certified "crime free" through a partnership with the Mesa Police Department.

That partnership, however, is in jeopardy because one of the requirements is that owners must require criminal background checks on potential tenants.

The new law just passed by the legislature and signed by the governor on Thursday takes away the power of HOAs to require those background checks.

"There are a lot of angry, angry boards right now. My line is off the hook," says attorney Clint Goodman. As a former Mesa police officer, Goodman has seen the positive impact of the Mesa PD Tri-Star program firsthand.

"That crime is going to migrate into my condominiums. Where else are these folks going to go?" he said.

Families and retirees have already told Russell if the crooks move in, they are moving out.

"They're ready to pick up and move. They don't want to live next to the criminals," said Russell.

He has already drafted a lawsuit and tells CBS5 he plans to file no later than next Tuesday.

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